Category Archives: MES

The 9 Most Common Manufacturing Symptoms, and How to Cure Them

The 9 Most Common Manufacturing Symptoms, and How to Cure Them
When looking for a solution to manufacturing problems, it’s important that you find the cure rather than just treating the symptoms.


Common Manufacturing Symptoms

Every manufacturer faces daily frustrations. Problems crop up that slow production, increase paperwork and waste resources. It isn’t until these issues start impacting the bottom line that solving the problem becomes a priority. Unfortunately, by that time, the damage has been done.

Think of your day-to-day production issues as symptoms and your manufacturing software as the doctor. You may schedule a check-up for a minor pain, but you expect your doctor to address the underlying issues. If your doctor only focuses on curing the symptoms, you’ll be back in their office with a similar problem the next week.

Manufacturers share a lot of their symptoms with our team when discussing potential production solutions. Here are some of the most common.

The Most Common Manufacturing Symptoms:

  • Decreases in Quality
  • Increases in customer turnbacks
  • Generating too much scrap
  • Missing ships dates
  • Increases in overtime
  • Frequently failing audits
  • Unreliable production records
  • Misplacing orders
  • Losing customers

You can put a band-aid on any of these problems by installing sidecar modular systems, but inevitably, that symptom will find a way to manifest in another area of your shop. Modular systems rely on this “finger in the dam” approach to keep you coming back for more. Your shop doesn’t need another short-term solution. It needs the cure.


The Cure is Production Control

In every manufacturing symptom listed above, the underlying issue connects back to a single problem: a lack of end-to-end production control.

The right MES enforces Quality and provides your supervisors real-time visibility on every order. Process control equates to less operator errors, which increases Quality and eliminates customer turnbacks.

Higher Quality eliminates scrap, cuts wasted resources, keeps production on schedule and brings your project in under budget. If you’re ahead of schedule you aren’t paying for overtime or rushed shipping costs. Your business is charging the same amount with less overhead while building trust with your customers.

In addition to end-to-end production control, a true MES collects data on every order in a permanent as-built record. This eliminates the tremendous amount of time and manual data entry errors that plague production. With production under control and your order data all automatically logged in a single, complete as-built record, audits are a breeze.


Next Steps

For more than 20 years, CIMx has developed complete solutions for manufacturers. The experience and innovation behind CIMx systems have delivered decades of increased production and cost savings. Quantum™ is designed to deliver the production control your team needs to build it right™, ahead of schedule and under budget. Cure your shop floor problems, with Quantum.

Schedule your live Quantum demo with a CIMx Application Expert today!

Production Control from Coast to Coast

Quantum connects and controls production for US manufacturers.

Contracting more orders than you have the resources to complete seems like a great problem to have to most manufacturers. However, it’s the consequences of success that have forced many unprepared manufacturers to close shop. Overtime hours chip away at profit margins, over-worked employees become more likely to commit errors and late delivery frustrates longtime customers.

The irony is that the same processes that elevate a company to success can ultimately become that company’s downfall. To succeed in manufacturing, your shop must automate data-capture, enforce build conformance and direct production with real-time WIP dashboards. Keep your delivery promises to every customer and continue your business on the path to success with a production control system designed for every stage of manufacturing.

One CIMx customer was growing at a rapid rate. Business had taken such a positive turn that the company needed to expand operations to the West Coast. To guarantee the level of Quality was consistent at their new facility the company selected Quantum to connect and control production from coast-to-coast.


Case Study: Production Control from Coast to Coast

The Problem
An East Coast electronics manufacturer was growing. Overtime hours skyrocketed and rushed shipping costs began impacting their already narrow margins. This increase in work was welcomed, but resources were thin. To accommodate the increased demand, a secondary shop was scheduled to open on the West coast.

“We were getting by,” explained one production supervisor, “but there were problems we didn’t have solutions for… no records and no good way to track work. We had people just standing around the shop because they were missing information or materials.”

The Solution
Quantum was implemented at both facilities to connect and control the entire enterprise under one sustainable platform. By utilizing Quantum’s advanced planning center and end-to-end production controls, the manufacturer was able to enforce best practices on every build, increase quality standards and track operator/order data from both locations.

In a matter of months, both shops were on schedule and operating at a level of quality and efficiency never before thought possible. By utilizing digital work packets, automatic tolerance checks and real-time WIP quality alerts, the manufacturer was able to prevent common operator errors, stay on schedule and enforce engineering changes from 3,000 miles away.

This customer has continued to grow and is once again expanding their facilities. Record, report and react to errors on your shop floor before they become bottlenecks. Support compliance certification and become the supplier your customers go to first when a job has to be completed on schedule. Build it right™, with Quantum.


If you’re interested in shop floor control, ahead-of-schedule production and complete order visibility, connect with CIMx Application Expert Liz Hamedi at 513-248-7700 x416, or email the CIMx team directly at info@CIMx.com.

CIMx Software celebrates 22 years of US manufacturing software innovation!

After two decades of advanced planning and production control, CIMx announces Quantum 6.0 release for spring of 2018

They say you can learn a lot about a company by understanding where they got their start.

CIMx began its journey in 1996 by developing Process Planning and Engineering systems for Fortune 500 US manufacturers. That foundation in advanced planning, highly regulated compliance reporting and agile engineering change management has fueled more than 20 years of manufacturing software innovation.

“From day one, the goal was to develop our systems in a way that even the shops just starting out could have access to the same tools leveraged by our Fortune 500 customers…” said veteran of the manufacturing tech industry and CEO, Anthony Cuilwik, PhD. “Our Quantum platform achieved that goal. It really is the next generation of manufacturing.”

From aerospace and government defense contractors to medical device, carbon composites and beyond, CIMx has delivered the same care for detail and process demanded by their customers for more than 20 years.

“US manufacturing is going through a renaissance. Shops are growing and their old manual processes just can’t keep up with customer demand.” explained Director of Messaging, Ed Deaton, “Quantum delivers the tools both engineers and operators need to drive velocity, eliminate scrap and ship ahead of schedule, all from one sustainable platform.”

CIMx’s mission of delivering production control to manufacturers of all sizes, regardless of revenue stream, is alive in Quantum. The latest system release is scheduled to deploy spring 2018 as a free upgrade to all licensed users.

If you’re interested in shop floor control, ahead-of-schedule production and complete order visibility, connect with CIMx Application Expert Liz Hamedi at 513-248-7700 x416, or email the CIMx team directly at info@CIMx.com.

 

 

 

How to Turn Production Data into Actionable Manufacturing Intelligence

There’s a critical difference between raw data and actionable manufacturing intelligence. Data is just information. Actionable manufacturing intelligence adds value. When provided to the right person at the right time, action can be taken and value added – that could mean higher throughput, lower costs, and more productivity.

Companies utilizing actionable intelligence find success in the marketplace. They have the flexibility and production agility modern manufacturers need.

The Morning Reports Sinkhole in your Production Cycle

For companies relying on spreadsheets, paper travelers and their ERP for production data, information is compiled at the end of the day and then shared in a morning report. A morning report is data, and not actionable intelligence.

The data in the morning report is often flawed, if not completely fictional. The ERP was never designed to collect production data, so patchwork and dubious methods are used to gather information. Employees pencil whip information on a traveler before clocking out for the day, or fudge numbers when memory fails. A coffee spill on a spreadsheet can ruin the data and leave you scrambling to decipher a smudge.

Manufacturers using data like this to track and control production are hurting themselves. Decisions are made on speculation using the best data available (data that was never very good in the first place). This leads to a lack of discipline and control in production. Waste and scrap increases, and problems stymie production velocity with no clear solution as management isn’t sure what happening on the shop floor.

Manufacturers need actionable manufacturing intelligence, and actionable manufacturing intelligence requires real-time production data.

The Key to Manufacturing Intelligence

The Quantum Production Control System (PCS) is designed to provide accurate and actionable real-time information on production.

Using Quantum and your current build books and work instructions, you can begin collecting real-time production data from your current processes and standard use of the system. Accurate updates and Work In Progress (WIP) reports are just a mouse click away. Capturing data is done automatically throughout production.

Take Action on Improved Production

Real-time data is actionable, while a morning report is nothing more than a review – a window into the past. With the PCS in place, real-time production data is fed to the right people at the right time to make a positive impact on production. Supervisors can see a problem occur, such as a machine going down or a late material shipment, and then take action to mitigate and solve the problem. Feedback loops at the work station provide rapid resolution to problems, keeping production on schedule.

Contact CIMx Software today and connect with our team to see how quickly Quantum can empower your production team with actionable manufacturing intelligence to accelerate productivity and eliminate waste for you. Ditch the spreadsheet and embrace efficiency in your processes with Quantum.

Process Improvement graph.

Use Your Data for Accurate Production Costs

For manufacturers, accurate estimates are critical to managing costs and margins. If estimates are based on guesswork: bids can be lost, delivery times missed or costs can spiral out of control. Too often, operators will pencil-whip work times on their way out the door rather than accurately tracking and recording their work. This skews the limited data available causing misinformed directives from the top.  When both the historical data and the analytics at the foundation of estimates are suspect, problems quietly grow costing the company money that has to be made up in additional production.

Turn Production Data into Profit

Accurate estimates require both clean historical data and production visibility, both of which are provided by the Quantum Production Control System (PCS). Let’s look at a few areas a PCS can enhance your estimates:

  • Accurate Labor and Production Data

Know who did what and for how long during production, and then turn that data into more precise estimates. The PCS automatically tracks labor and production through standard use of the system. This includes machine time and labor, so management can see how much time, effort, materials and parts are required to complete work. Over time, as accurate data is accumulated, the company can begin providing more accurate estimates and labor loading.

  • Identify and eliminate scrap

Scrap can turn profitable products into an expense for manufacturers, and yet many companies struggle to understand the cause. The production control system collects production data that reveals where and how scrap is generated. The PCS links the scrap to the work being done at the time it occurs. With this information, the manufacturer can either eliminate the root cause of scrap, or better estimate standard losses in production.

  • Focus on profitable work

Once you are tracking labor and production costs, leverage the data to identify and prioritize the most profitable work. Refine your gross manufacturing margin using production data to identify products and goods with a higher gross margin. With this information, you can make more profit on every sale and shipment. The company makes more and spends less.

Increasing Profit Velocity

Many companies look at a production control system to solve a specific problem such as a failed audit, late shipments, or poor visibility into Work in Progress (WIP). Even with the solution in place, the company finds more value in the critical data the system feeds to the sale and production cycle. With higher gross margins, accurate estimates, and control over scrap and production the company finds expenses go down and profits up.

If you’re ready to take control of production costs and enhance your profit on every product built, contact CIMx Software today to learn more about Quantum. Discover what a PCS can do for you.

Does Your ERP Speak MFG?

Manufacturers come to CIMx Software with critical manufacturing issues and need solutions to the problems holding back their business. After digging into their issues we often discover a common cause…

Their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) doesn’t speak MFG (Manufacturing).

Problems Hiding in Your Production Lifecycle

Most discrete manufacturing problems derive from the blind spot in the company’s ERP to manufacturing. An ERP has limited control over the core of their business – production. Unable to identify the root cause of problems, or know how much money is lost with every transaction, quality, velocity and revenue decline. Work is done and production continues, but the management team is constantly fixing problems as they happen. The ERP working alone limits growth and negatively impacts profit.

The ERP, while it manages financials and may store work instructions, fails to provide the control make-to-order production requires. Without rigorous control to eliminate variability, the shop floor is victim to inconsistency. Quality decreases, mistakes are made and money lost. With the shop floor relying solely on an ERP, managing complex production requirements becomes a daily struggle.

Here are 3 ways a process control system can help your ERP:

  • Bringing Workflow Control to the ERP

An ERP is a transaction-based system; dividing work into individual, self-contained transactions. However, discrete manufacturing processes are workflow-based, not transactional. Discrete manufacturing workflow is a series of interconnected if/then steps, not self-contained transactions. An ERP will struggle to support change and process control on the shop floor because both are characteristics of workflow systems. The ERP architecture isn’t designed for workflow, and can’t provide the control make-to-order manufacturers require.

  • Connecting the Shop Floor and Front-office

Regardless of what some software suppliers’ claim, an ERP is focused on the front office and not the shop floor. An ERP uses the tables and forms that make running a business easy. You shouldn’t have engineers, quality control and the shop floor navigating screens and drop down menus designed for order processing and accountants. Many systems do offer a friendlier “shop floor” screen for production, but underneath the new screen is a system designed around tables and forms that limit the flexibility and control make-to-order manufacturer’s need when a customer calls with a change order.

  • Deliver Company-wide Production Visibility

Many ERPs provide storage for form-based planning. The system attaches planning to an order and sequences it before sending it to the shop floor. After that point, an ERP offers no visibility into the production process. The system waits for the order to complete so it can bill the customer. The ERP is not a production control system. Make-to-order manufacturers need control and visibility to identify problems before they happen and ensure error-free manufacturing to the highest quality.

Bringing Production to Your ERP

Companies, especially make-to-order manufacturers, need to address the problems caused by the ERP on the shop floor, especially as they plan growth. A homegrown spreadsheet isn’t a solution and doesn’t help the ERP speak MFG. Using a spreadsheet is putting a band-aid on your production problems. With a production control system like Quantum, you link production directly to your ERP. Your software works seamlessly across the company.

Let the ERP focus on the front office. Give the production team a production control system. Optimize every phase of your business, and don’t force your production supervisor to work with a financial system.

Want to learn more, or see how software that speaks MFG can benefit you? Contact CIMx today to discuss your production needs. Set up a pilot program to test a production control system that eliminates the problems holding back your business today!

Four Tips for Delivering Manufacturing Success in 2018

As 2017 draws to a close, businesses are planning for success in 2018. For make-to-order manufacturers, this means setting realistic sales and production goals. Success may require new products lines, attacking a new market vertical, or delivering new services to an existing customer base.

Setting goals is easy – successfully delivering on those goals can be difficult.

New product lines require agility, workflow flexibility and production control. Execution quality is critical, or you run the risk of losing customers before you ever really had them. Best practices for new workflows require process enforcement. Quick and accurate responses to variability are absolutely essential. Efficiency is the difference between success and failure.

Evaluate Your Current Processes

Meeting goals requires preparation. The planning you do now will result in 2018 success. Here are four questions you should ask as you prepare for the New Year:

  • Do you have a reliable source of production data?

The key to overcoming process variability is data. The granular process data that currently eludes manufacturers using dated, paper-based processes is critical to diagnosing problems during production and implementing rapid solutions. With real-time accurate data, companies can implement feedback loops, shortening the response to variability, adjusting processes with speed and accuracy so the business can roll out new products faster.

  • Do you have a firm grasp of profitable and non-profitable work?

Simply selling a new product or serving a new market isn’t a guarantee of success. True success is measured by the bottom line. Accurately calculating profit requires a precise view of production costs. You need to not only know your spend, but also costs and savings in the manufacturing lifecycle. The data and events surrounding expenditures will unlock potential additional savings that ensure profitable work and more accurate estimates.

  • How much control do you have over production?

When implementing a new process or rolling out a new product, best practices are critical. Any deficiency in workflow or processes will result in recurring costs, late shipments and quality escapes. Procedural enforcement, production visibility, real-time operator buy-offs and automated tolerance checks deliver shop floor control. Revision-controlled engineering documentation and digital work instructions eliminate errors on the front-end, providing the complete manufacturing lifecycle control manufacturers need.

  • How quickly can you adjust to changing production conditions?

Business moves fast. Increasing production yield or attacking a new vertical will only increase the pace of change. If you can’t manage change, and still rely on a red pen for every Engineering Change Order (ECO), you are increasing risk at an unsustainable rate. Experience has shown a single change can have an explosive effect on the manufacturing lifecycle, exponentially increasing the time and cost of production across the shop floor.

Prepare Now for Manufacturing in 2018

Answering these questions will identify the gaps in your current processes. These gaps are magnified as production is pushed to increase output and meet the requirements of a new market.

Address these gaps before you invest time and effort in a new product line or pursue a new market. Digital manufacturing software will transition your company from outdated methods to true production control that aligns current capability with aggressive business goals.

Contact CIMx software today to speak with an experienced Application Engineer about low-cost technology tools available now that can deliver shop floor and production control for the competitive edge your company needs in 2018.